A Letter to Grandfather

Alis Nini
(Thessaloniki, Greece)

My Dearest Grandfather,

I finally got to see Armenia! Our country of origin, the country that history hasn’t been abundant or generous to, the country I have always been hearing about and got to experience on my 27th year of my life.

It was nothing to what I imagined. Yes, the ‘scars’ of a brutal history and the struggle to get through everyday life were obvious as well as the influence from the not so far Soviet Union times. But there is a group of optimistic and full of hope people that believe in Armenia and its new generation.

I joined Reanimania, the International Animation Film Festival of Yerevan, as a volunteer on its second year. Although it was something different to my working experience I enjoyed working on a challenging project and cooperating with young, bright and creative Armenians. Not speaking Armenian was difficult but wasn’t an obstacle as I found ways of communicating with my colleagues somehow!

Despite the fact that I woke up at the same time every day, got on a mashutka and went to work, went to lessons, met up with friends, went on excursions on Saturdays, each day in Yerevan was hiding a surprise. Somewhere amongst those scheduled moves I dealt with unexpected events that built up my resilience for life and helped me understand the Armenian culture better.

My lovely host family welcomed me and made me feel like home. I loved discussing with my host mother and sister about Armenia’s current issues, youth problems, culture differences and our life expectations and aspirations. My host brother was a very hard working person and I admired my host family for its artistic nature and love for education.

Armenia itself took my breath away. I couldn’t have enough of the Armenian nature, while the Cascade was my favourite spot in Yerevan. I visited the Cascade in the early morning hours, in the evening, at night. The view from its top gave me the chance to see the city at its awaking time, the time everyone was rushing around to return home after a tiring day and the time the city was strolling and spending time at cafés like citizens do in every other city of the world.

My last excursion was to a place I wanted to visit the most in Armenia. Khor Virap. And there I was at Khor Virap three days before my departure. Mountain Ararat was so close it was tempting reaching it with my hand although I knew I couldn’t. It was mid September and I felt the autumn breeze taking away all my summer’s carefree moments and realised it was time to ‘pack’ my precious memories and go back to a life where being Armenian had been just a typical reference to my roots but now defines me as a person more than ever.

Yours Truly,
Alis

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